Chapter 13

1 The bounds of the land not yet conquered. 8 The inheritance of the two tribes and half. 14, 33 The Lord and his sacrifices are the inheritance of Levi. 15 The bounds of the inheritance of Reuben.22 Balaam slain. 24 The bounds of the inheritance of Gad, 29 and of the half tribe of Manasseh.

1. Joshua was old. This chapter is generally considered to be the beginning of the second part of the book of Joshua. The first part has given a history of the conquest of the land. The second part deals with the division of the land among the conquerors.

Literally the first clause reads, “Joshua had aged and was advanced in days.” This statement was made some time before his death at 110 years of age (ch. 24:29). At times the Hebrew word translated “old” seems to be used with respect to the state of vitality rather than with respect to the number of years men lived. Gen. 27:1 states, “Isaac was old,” that is, he had aged; yet he lived 43 years after that. Likewise, it is said concerning David, “the king was very old” (1 Kings 1:15), but he could not have been more than about 70 when he died. The hardships and anxieties of the king’s life had aged him. In many countries 50 or 60 years is considered a great age. So it was, perhaps, with Joshua. His strenuous life as a warrior and leader of Israel, and the intenseness of the last years of conquest, had probably aged him, perhaps somewhat suddenly. His energies may have failed rather rapidly after his long course of active and anxious military service, so that he was glad to hear God utter the word that called for a halt in the campaign, to apportion the land. He may himself have been wondering how he would live to carry through the campaigns yet necessary to place the children of Israel in full possession of the land. As God’s true servant, Joshua had been willing to “spend and be spent.”

We have no definite information as to Joshua’s age at this time, but Josephus (Antiquities v. 1. 29) asserts that he was associated with Moses for 40 years, and that after his master’s death he governed Israel for 25 years. Since he died at the age of 110, this would have made him 85 years old at the death of Moses and about 45 years of age at the time of the Exodus. Comparing this with the stated age of Caleb (see on ch. 11:18 and Introduction, p. 172), Joshua would have been about 92 years of age at this time, that is, if we can rely on the figures of Josephus.

There remaineth. The military conquest in general was completed. Now it remained for the Israelites to possess the land. So far they had settled comparatively little of it. For the present there seemed to be no point in proceeding with the military campaigns, because often as soon as the armies of Israel had gone the vanquished people would move back and repossess the land. The plan was for the tribes, after they were established in their inheritance, to extend their own territories. Many battles remained yet to be fought in order to complete the possession, but God’s blessing in the past was an assurance for the future.

So it is in the spiritual warfare. The work of overcoming the defects of character is progressive. The dispossessing of enemies from the heart is a continuous struggle. Conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary and cultivated tendencies toward evil.

It is important to mark clearly the distinction between the work done by Joshua and the work left for Israel. Joshua overthrew the ruling powers and defeated their armies to such an extent that Israel was given a firm foothold in the country. But he did not exterminate the population from every portion of the country. Some nations were left entirely intact (Judges 2:20–23; 3:1–4). In the conquest and in the expansion the rules laid down in the law of Moses were to be the guiding principle. The 7th and 12th chapters of Deuteronomy set forth three main rules that the children of Israel were to follow: (1) utter extermination of the nations Jehovah should deliver into their hands; (2) no covenant or treaty to be made with them, and all intermarriage prohibited; (3) the destruction of all traces of idolatry in the conquered territory. The responsibility of the first of these was upon the leaders; the second and third, upon all the people. It is obvious that the persistent and general destruction of objects of Canaanitish worship, with the refusal to make treaties or intermarry, would tend to perpetuate a state of irritation in the minds of the Canaanites. Had these rules been faithfully observed, there would probably have been constant outbreaks of hostility, terminating in the further and more rapid extermination of the enemies of Israel, or else in their absolute submission to Israelite law. Thus the entire conquest might have been completed in a comparatively short time.

The manner of the ancient conquest may be taken to illustrate a spiritual truth. In the Christian warfare, not only may many battles against sin remain to be fought, even after years of warfare, but there may also be much territory of truth yet to be occupied. We have not yet secured all the sacred knowledge which God would teach us from His Word, and which would be profitable for us. Many Christians are in danger of relying on the conquests of some “Joshua,” rather than making fresh explorations for themselves in the unexplored mines of truth.

2. Yet remaineth. The author proceeds to enumerate the unconquered areas to the west of Jordan (vs. 2–6). He begins at the south and proceeds north and northeast to Lebanon.

Borders of the Philistines. Literally, “circles of the Philistines.” The expression probably refers to the patches of cultivated ground extending around each of the cities, which we might call “districts.” The LXX reads horia, “regions.” The Philistines were not Canaanites, but were descended from Mizraim, through Casluhim (Gen. 10:6, 13, 14; 1 Chron. 1:8, 11, 12; see on Gen. 10:14). In Gen. 21:32, 34; Gen. 26:1, 8, the Philistines are named as already inhabiting the neighborhood of Gerar, in the extreme southwestern part of Palestine, and in Gen. 10:14 as relatives of “the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor,” destroying “the Avims” and establishing themselves northward to Azzah (afterward Gaza) in what was subsequently known as “the land of the Philistines.” They are mentioned by the prophets as coming from Caphtor (Jer. 47:4; Amos 9:7). At the present time there is no archeological evidence of the Philistines living in the coastal cities until about 1200 b.c. At that time they are reported to have attempted a landing in Egypt but were driven off by Ramses III, in connection with the great movement of “Sea Peoples,” which led to the downfall of the Hittite empire. However, in a number of instances the Biblical record names the Philistines as already in this coastal territory as early as the days of Abraham. There were probably repeated waves of migration from the island of Caphtor, the last or perhaps major one being about 1200 b.c., the only one attested by archeology. Further excavations may bring additional information to light.

Geshuri. These are not to be confused with the Geshurites northeast of the Sea of Galilee. The Geshuri inhabited a district lying to the south of the Philistines, on the way to Egypt or Arabia (1 Sam. 27:8).

3. Sihor. From the Hebrew form of the Egyptian ShiРhor, “Pond of Horus,” which appears in Egyptian documents as a body of water at the eastern border of the Delta. Its exact location is unknown. The LXX reads, “from the uninhabited area which is before Egypt.” In certain other places in the Bible (Joshua 15:4, 47; Gen. 15:18; Num. 34:5; 1 Kings 8:65; Isa. 27:12) the expression “river of Egypt” or “stream of Egypt” is used. But these do not refer to the river Nile, because in the Hebrew the word nahal, “a winter torrent,” is used. Also in Jer. 2:18 and 1 Chron. 13:5 Sihor, or Shihor, is used in a way decisively eliminating the Nile. Some think the Sihor to be the brook that runs into the sea at the extreme southern border of Palestine. It flows through a broad, shallow wadi, or valley, that drains the seasonal surplus water from the Wilderness of Paran into the Mediterranean. It is known today as Wadi elРArish, and is about 47 mi. (75 km.) southwest of Gaza.

Ekron. Site uncertain, but assigned most recently to Khirbet elРMuqannaХ, about 11 mi. (17.7 km.) east-northeast of Ashdod, nearer that city than formerly supposed. This territory is probably “counted to the Canaanite” because its original possessors were descendants of Canaan, the youngest of Ham’s sons. However, the Caphtorim dispossessed the Avites who held this territory (see on Gen. 10:14), and dwelt there in their stead (see Deut. 2:23).

Lords. See on Judges 3:3. The word translated “lords” is peculiar to the Philistines. It literally means “axle,” and, in view of the phrase referred to above, “circles of the Philistines” (see on v. 2), is very fitting. These “lords” were heads rather than kings.

Avites. Literally, “ruin dwellers.” These may have been the aborigines of the area around and to the south of the Philistines who preceded the Canaanites, and were dispossessed by the Caphtorim (see Deut. 2:22, 23).

4. From the south. It cannot be definitely determined whether this phrase should go with the preceding or succeeding verses. The LXX and the Syriac connect it with what follows, which seems to make the better sense. The LXX employs for south the proper name, and translates it, “from Theman,” which was the southern limit of Avite territory.

Mearah. Literally, “cave.” The verse may be translated “and the cave that belongs to the Sidonians.” This cave has been thought to be the cave between Tyre and Sidon, called Mughaµr Jezzйµn, where a number of grottoes are hewn out of the limestone rocks of Lebanon. Another tentative identification is Mogheiriyeh, about 5 1/2 mi. (9 km.) northeast of Sidon. With this verse the writer turns to the northern unconquered areas.

Aphek. Apparently the northern Aphek (ch. 19:30), now Afka, northeast of Beirut. Not to be confused with the Aphek of ch. 12:18. Called by the Greeks Aphaka, it was near the source of the Adonis River. It was in the lot that fell to Asher.

Borders of the Amorites. That is, the land once inhabited by the Amorites, which belonged to Og, king of Bashan. It extended north of the central and upper Yarmuk River.

5. Giblites. Heb. gibli, translated “stone-squarers” in 1 Kings 5:18. These people inhabited Gebal, an important Phoenician seaport. This city, called Byblos by the Greeks, was 17 1/2 mi. (28.2 km.) north by east from Beirut. From this it is evident that God intended Israel to occupy territory much farther to the north than they actually later conquered. In fact, He had declared that the Euphrates was to be their boundary (Gen. 15:18; Deut. 11:24).

Lebanon, toward the sunrising. The eastern range, that is, the Anti-Lebanon.

Baal-gad. Literally, “lord of fortune.” All the kings south of Baal-gad had been conquered (see on ch. 11:17 and 12:7). Now the reference is to the unconquered territory north from Baal-gad.

The entering into Hamath. Investigation has shown that when the Hebrew word leboХ, “entering,” is used with the name Hamath it refers to an ancient city known today as Lebweh, 70 mi. (113 km.) south-southwest of Hamaµ, the Biblical Hamath. Ancient Egyptian texts frequently mention the city, which was at that time a dependency of Hamath.

The northern border of Israel is described as extending to the “entering in of Hamath” (Judges 3:3; 1 Kings 8:65; see Num. 34:8; 2 Kings 14:25). There were times when the border of Israel actually extended that far, as in the reign of Solomon and also in the reign of Jeroboam II.

6. The hill country. The mountains of southern Lebanon and upper Galilee.

Misrephoth-maim. See on ch. 11:8.

All the Sidonians. All the heathen tribes dwelling south of the Lebanon as far as the promontory of Raµs enРNakuµrah, or Misrephoth-maim, Khirbet elРMusheirefeh.

Will I drive out. The original is emphatic, “It is I that will drive them out.” This promise, however, like other similar declarations, is to be understood conditionally. If the Israelites would go forward by faith as Joshua had done, God would fight for them and give them victory. But Israel failed to press their conquests to completion. Some of the very people whom God had promised to drive out but did not, for lack of Israel’s cooperation, became the source of Israel’s greatest irritation and shame in later years (see Num. 33:55; Judges 2:1–5; 10:6–9; 13:1; 1 Sam. 4). Israel failed to carry out their part of the agreement, and the promise remained unfulfilled. An unfulfilled promise of God to us should cause us to inquire diligently into the cause. God does not intend that the word that has gone out of His mouth shall return unto Him void (Isa. 55:11).

Divide thou it by lot. Literally, “cause thou it to fall for an inheritance.” The phraseology is evidently derived from the method of casting lots by which its distribution was governed. Though still only partially conquered, the great Proprietor would have His people consider the country even now as theirs. As a pledge of the sincerity of His purpose to give the entire land to them, He directs that without further delay it be divided among the tribes.

8. With whom. That is, with the other half of the tribe of Manasseh. Literally the phrase reads, “with him,” a personal rather than a relative pronoun. The words of the Lord direct to Joshua close with v. 7. The author uses the pronoun in order to avoid the repetition of “the half tribe of Manasseh.” So that the reader might understand the reason for the omission of the two and a half tribes in the new distribution, the writer explains (vs. 8–14) that they have already been provided for. The restatement of the fact here, in the formal record of the division of the land, would serve to ratify the grant formerly made by Moses.

9. Medeba. The modern MaЖdebaµ, a town east of the Jordan about 40 mi. (65 km.) south of Jerash (Gerasa) and about 15 mi. (24 km.) southeast of the north end of the Dead Sea. Medeba is mentioned in connection with Dibon as having been conquered by Israel (Num. 21:30).

Dibon. This town was 15 mi. (24 km.) directly south of Medeba and 3 1/4 mi. (5 km.) northwest of Aroer, on the river Arnon. It was taken by Israel at an early period and rebuilt by Gad. It was here that the famous Moabite Stone was discovered in 1868. The site is now called DhйµbaЖn.

10. Border of the children of Ammon. This was northeast of the kingdom of Heshbon. Ammon lay in the watershed of the Jabbok River. It was bounded on the west by Gad and Manasseh, and on the east by the desert, with its northern boundary probably being the southern branch of the Yarmuk River.

11. Geshurites and Maachathites. See on ch. 12:5.

12. Giants. See on ch. 12:4.

14. Levi. The statement that Levi was to receive no inheritance among the tribes is given here at the end of the account regarding the two and a half tribes, and is repeated in v. 33 and again in ch. 14:3, 14:4 God gave them no inheritance, because the tithes of the whole country were to be theirs instead of a portion of the land (Num. 18:20–24). They were also to receive of the offerings (Num. 18; Deut. 18:1, 2). They had as indisputable a right to the tithes and allotted offerings as their brethren had to the land. The priests and Levites could not at once perform the duties of the priesthood, teach the people, and perform other spiritual duties if they were to be burdened with land, cattle, business, and warfare. As it was not in God’s plan to have the Levites take their share of the tithes and at the same time carry on farming or commercial enterprises, so today God asks those dedicated to the ministry to give their full energies to the advancement of the kingdom of heaven.

Sacrifices. Heb. Хishsheh, always translated “offering made by fire,” or “sacrifice made by fire.” However, in Lev. 24:7, 9, the shewbread is spoken of as an offering made by fire, yet it was to be eaten by the priests. Hence the word does not necessarily mean that the sacrifices thus designated were always to be consumed with fire.

15. Reuben. Having set forth in general the territory that Moses had assigned to the two tribes and a half, Joshua proceeded to set down the particular boundaries of each tribe. The territory of Reuben was first defined.

16. Aroer. See on ch. 12:2.

Medeba. See on v. 9. From vs. 16–21 the author enumerates in detail the various cities and territories that formed part of the inheritance of Reuben.

19. Zareth-shahar. Meaning “Sereth of the dawn.” This place is unidentified, perhaps near the Dead Sea. Apparently it was on a hill in a valley, probably the Jordan Valley. The name of this place may be preserved in the modern ZaµraЖt.

21. With the princes. The preposition “with” is not in the original. The Hebrew does not say that Moses smote them at the same time he smote Sihon, but only that they were smitten, as well as Sihon.

Dukes of Sihon. Also called princes in this same verse. In Num. 31:8 they are called “kings.” However, in the sacred writings a “king” may be no more than a petty chieftain, perhaps himself subject to some more powerful ruler. In this verse they are called “dukes,” or princes, of Sihon, because they were subject and tributaries to Sihon and assisted him in war. It is probable that when Sihon destroyed the Moabites who dwelt in these parts, he found some of the nomad Midianites living there, placed them under subjection, and forced them to pay tribute. For this reason they may here be called “dukes of Sihon.” The conquest of the Midianites by Israel is recorded in Num. 31. The orders were given to “avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites” (Num. 31:2), because the Midianites had tempted Israel to idolatry and immorality. This verse supplies us with a further reason for hostilities between them and Israel. They were a part of Sihon’s government. In order for the subjugation of Sihon’s territory to be completed, it was necessary to remove Sihon’s dukes or princes. The connection between the Midianites and the Moabites is seen in earlier Israelitic history (see Num. 22:4). An existing relationship between Midian and Moab, which is implied but not explained in Num. 31, is attested by the incidental remark here. It is another example of historical agreement between the book of Joshua and the Pentateuch.

22. The soothsayer. Balaam was at one time a prophet of God, but sold himself for reward and honor, and degraded his position as a prophet until he became known as a soothsayer. After returning home from his unsuccessful attempt to curse the camp of Israel, Balaam decided to resort to other means to obtain the reward offered by Balak. Returning to the land of Moab, he persuaded the Moabites to entice the children of Israel into idolatry and immorality. The plan was successful. For thus opposing God’s people Balaam shared the fate of God’s enemies in the destruction that fell upon the Midianites (Num. 25:16–18).

25. Jazer. This city was snatched from the Amorites (Num. 21:32), and given to Gad upon his request (Num. 32:1, 2). Later the place became a Levitical city (ch. 21:39). The town was in Ammon, or on its border, a short distance north or northwest of Rabbath-ammon, the modern Amman. The region was excellent for grazing.

Cities of Gilead. That is, the cities of the southern part of Gilead, as far as the Jabbok. The other half of Gilead, which belonged to the king of Bashan rather than Sihon, fell, as we learn from v. 31, to the half tribe of Manasseh (see ch. 12:2). The border of Gad extended farther east than did that of Reuben. The northern border of Gad was the river Jabbok west to the Arabah and then north to the Sea of Chinnereth (Deut. 3:16, 17). Gad evidently was given the plain of Jordan north of the Jabbok and east of the river Jordan.

Ammon. The children of Israel had already been expressly forbidden to meddle with the country of Ammon (Deut. 2:19).

Unto Aroer. This Aroer is not to be confused with Aroer of Reuben on the northern bank of the Arnon (chs. 12:2; 13:9, 16). It is “before” Rabbah, Rabbath-ammon. Some taking “before” in the sense of “east of,” place Aroer east of Rabbah; others, taking it in its time sense, see it as a place reached earlier by one coming from the Jordan, hence west of Rabbah.

26. Heshbon. See on Num. 21:25.

Ramath-mizpeh. Literally, “height of the lookout point.” The site, somewhere in the highlands north of the Jabbok, is today unknown unless it is Ramoth-gilead, probably 30 mi. (48 km.) east of Beth-shan, at Tell er Rumeith (Ra_mith). It was on the northern border of Gad.

Betonim. A site near Ramath-mizpeh, forming a north point in the boundary of Gad, somewhere near the Jabbok, identified with Khirbet Batneh, near esРSalt.

Mahanaim. Not as yet definitely identified. This city was east of the Jordan, probably on the banks of the river Jabbok, built on the spot where Jacob saw the camps of angels (Gen. 32:1, 2, 22). It was situated on the border of Gad and Manasseh. Somewhere near Mahanaim lay Debir, which is probably identical with Lo-debar, the home of Machir, who helped to provide David with necessary supplies when he fled from his son Absalom (2 Sam. 17:27).

27. In the valley. The boundary of the kingdom of Heshbon not only went north as far as the Jabbok but also took in the Jordan valley as far north as the Sea of Chinnereth. All this territory was given to the children of Gad, although maps generally show Manasseh’s inheritance as extending all the way to the river Jordan.

Succoth, and Zaphon. These are the only two cities of the four mentioned in v. 27 that have been identified. All these cities, of course, were in the upper Jordan valley. Succoth lay on a highland site near the river Jabbok and has been identified as Tell DeirФallaµ, a whitish mound 60 ft. (18.3 m.) high. Zaphon may be identified with Tell elРQoЖs. Zaphon is on the north side of the Rajeb River north of Succoth and south of Zaretan.

29. Manasseh. As far as can be observed, Manasseh did not formally request this inheritance to the east of Jordan, as did Reuben and Gad (Num. 32:1, 2). Probably it was thought fit to join them with the other two tribes because of the large population of the tribe of Manasseh (Num. 26:34). It is also likely that they had a large number of cattle, as did the other two tribes. The Manassites were good warriors, and perhaps Moses felt it would be well to have them to the east of Jordan as an outer guard, especially the families of Machir and Jair (See Deut. 3:14, 15).

30. From Mahanaim. See v. 26. The territory of Gad went from this point in toward the Jordan and the Sea of Chinnereth, whereas the territory of Manasseh lay toward the northeast.

Bashan. The grain country east of the Sea of Chinnereth.

The towns of Jair. Literally, “the dwelling places of Jair.” Jair’s grandmother was of the tribe of Manasseh, but his grandfather was Hezron, a grandson of Judah through Tamar (1 Chron. 2:18-22). Still he was reckoned with the tribe of Manasseh because he was the grandchild of the daughter of Machir, the son of Manasseh. Associated with the valiant Manassites, and with their help, he took many cities (Num. 32:40, 41; Deut. 3:4, 14). Another Jair, who judged Israel two centuries after the time of Joshua, may have been a descendant of this Jair (see Judges 10:3–5). Originally, there were 23 “towns of Jair.”

31. And half Gilead. That is, the other half not given to the Gadites (v. 25). North Gilead was part of the kingdom of Og.

Ashtaroth, and Edrei. See on ch. 12:4.

Children of Machir. The same as those previously called the children of Manasseh. They are now called the children of Machir, because Machir was the first-born and only son of Manasseh (Num. 26:29; 1 Chron. 7:14–16). Thus the “children of Machir” are the Manassites. For the other half of Machir’s children, see Joshua 17:1–6.

33. Tribe of Levi. Again mention is made of the fact that Levi received no inheritance. This is a repetition of v. 14, and the statement is again repeated in ch. 14:3, 4, and in ch. 18:7. This frequent repetition was probably to help the people remember their obligation to the Levites. It may also have been designed to impress the members of the tribe of Levi that they were the ministers of the Lord and that their life was to be devoted to the service of God. God would care for them through the arrangement made concerning the tithes and offerings. Therefore, they should not be concerned over the fact that they received no inheritance.